I think I can divide my friends into two batches.
It’s become more blatant in the last two weeks, but it seems more and more that my friends can be sorted by their chief television program of choice. There are the Doctor Who people and the Justified people.
The Doctor Who people easily outnumber the Justified people by about five to one. Which is odd when I remember back to the early 1980s and the time that everyone at Jefferson Middle School mocked me for loving Doctor Who. Those were the old shows…the first four doctors when they ran on PBS and you had to sit through that schoolmarmy woman telling you that if you wanted to keep Doctor Who on the air you’d send your allowance to Channel 39. At some point the Doctor quit being a quirky kids’ show with silver-painted thermoses as props and became a sleekly repackaged brand that sells chaste sex appeal and witty banter. It’s no wonder that folks love it now. Watching Doctor Who is like having a crush on the captain of the chess team when you’re in sixth grade. It’s fun and sweet and has a frisson of danger. But only just.
So I suppose I admit almost reluctantly that I’m a Justified person now. I’m still watching the New Doctor Who because it’s fun in that same way that the cartoons before the main feature are fun. Harmless, innocent, wistful. But Justified is like Doctor Who for people who have become slightly jaded yet retained both a sense of humour and a world-weary realisation that there are actually people who treat blow jobs as a form of currency. All my Justified friends are like the AD&Ders who saw too many of their characters die in campaigns. We love make-believe but we do know it bites back. We also don’t mind the occasional use of the expletive when folks are trying to make their point.
I’m trying hard to be fair as I write this because I really don’t wish to slag off either group. I enjoy both shows. But if I were totally honest (which is an impossibility; one either is honest or is not honest) I would have to say that I’ll watch Doctor Who if there’s nothing else on but I’ll watch Justified over and over and over again.
Signs You Are A Doctor Who Person: You think it’s cute when the hero has a romance.
Signs You Are A Justified Person: You know that any romance the hero has is going to end him in some hot water. Probably involving gamecocks.
Signs You Are A Doctor Who Person: You think the sonic screwdriver is the coolest weapon.
Signs You Are a Justified Person: You think Raylan Givens is the coolest weapon.
Signs You Are A Doctor Who Person: You think Weeping Angels are scary when they don’t move
Signs You Are A Justified Person: You think Boyd Crowder is scary when he starts using sentences with fewer than 15 words.
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I’ll start off by admitting that I hadn’t an earthly clue what to title this post. I usually like for my titles to be poignant, attention grabbing or at the very least annoyingly pun-filled. But since I sat down here knowing only that I was going to do free-writing and that the free-writing wasn’t going to be the grouchily introspective thing that we ended up with yesterday…well, we are stuck with that up there.
I mentioned last week on Facebook that my stupidest and most lame peeve is when the word “boatswain” is spelled phonetically. Any more it’s not uncommon to read books where the “bosun” does something. And every time that word “bosun” comes up I get snooty. Honestly it’s probably because I know, like, five things about boats, one of those being that “bosun” is spelled b o a t s w a i n. And I’m such a geek for those spellings that contain whole realms of history crammed into the seemingly extra letters. Yes, “enough” is spelled strangely to our modern eye, but when you start to dig into why you learn all kinds of fun facts about the world. That place where words intersect with history is one of my favourite realms to hang about.
Fortunately for you I’m not going to go into the other four things I know about boats. Because I’m just not really THAT into boats, and I don’t think I could bear writing about them. I used to be very enthralled by stories set on ships. I’d like to thank the Whale Ship Essex for changing THAT forever. Actually it wasn’t the Whaler Essex who was really at fault, but rather Edgar Allen Poe whose fascination with that story led him to write The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket. I eagerly dove into that story when I was about twelve, which is also when I was most enthralled with stories set on ships AND stories by Edgar Allen Poe. But I have this thing about cannibalism. I can’t contemplate it without going into a cold sweat and having nightmares and just generally spending a lot of time troubled. There’s cannibalism in Pym because it’s based on the story of the Whaler Essex and it’s by Edgar Allen Poe who has a fascination with the horrible things people do. (On balance I think I generally prefer my fascination with arcane spellings. It gives me a much happier, much less cousin-boinking life.) So that was the last book set on a boat that I read eagerly. Even reading Hunt For Red October after I saw the movie I was just sure the Russians were going to start eating each other out of boredom.
Seventeen years ago I decided to use immersion therapy to get over my cannibalism thing so I read a bunch of books about the Donner Party. It worked enough that I can now blog about Pym without getting all hypervental but it also resulted in my knowing that the guy who ate the most people ended up opening a restaurant. Which…yuck. Who would eat there? Apparently some people must have. I guess they had dares in the nineteenth century too.
Wow. Look at that. I did my 500 words easily today, and with no maudlin whinging! Perhaps I’ll be able to return to this without wanting to smack myself after all. I really do love blogging. Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go look up some other things about boats.
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That itch in my wrists and the bouncing restless knee are signs that it’s time for my holiday blog sabbatical to be over. I didn’t intentionally take one, but the way this November and December bled together in a haze of obligation and insouciance I ended up without a blog post for a month. I figured that was better than my ultimately-repetitive take on the Duck Dynasty flap.
Life is moving toward its inevitable conclusion in fits and starts over her in Katherineland. So is this blog entry, now that it comes to it. I had ideas when I signed back into wordpress, but now all of those ideas bore me.
Strange men–men unknown to me previously–are stomping over my head with bandsaws and nailguns, ripping out the 14.5 year old Berber carpet and installing bamboo floor. We are remodeling our cave. Husband took the bed down on Sunday afternoon and I spent a good five minutes staring at the carpet. The patch of carpet that sat under our bed, safely tucked away from the sunlight, looked much darker and a good half-inch thicker. It was in truth the _right_ carpet in that it was the carpet most like that which we chose, purchased and installed when the house was built in 1999. But it isn’t the “right” carpet anymore. It’s too dark. Too springy. Too tall. The carpet to which I’m accustomed is that which we’ve walked over and spilled on and lolled about atop for the last chunk of our lives. It’s considerably more worn yet it looks _right_ to my eye. It looks as I feel it should look.
Of course I’m stretching this ode to stinky Berber into metaphor for aging and personal growth, because how could you not? I’m not as fresh and springy as I was when I moved in here. But I’m more relaxed and comfortable with who I am. And I’ve spent a lot of the last decade and a half getting crapped upon by life in general. As with the carpet I realise that you just clean it off, sanitize a bit and move on. You don’t let the poo sit there. You don’t grind it in.
I love using my blog to talk sense to myself. That’s what I just did there. I’ve been torn enough about life circumstances that I hunted down a handful of trusted advisors and pled for wisdom. It all boils down to “pick up the crap, clean and move on.”
This may now sound like I’m changing the subject. I guess truthfully I’m moving the subject over bridge and onto a chip and seal byway. But this talk of defecation reminds me that I had yet another conversation wherein a talk about clean water ministries devovled into a discussion about what kind of “language” is appropriate for Christians. Folks would rather talk about how “Shit” makes God sorely aggrieved than talk about how some people in the world have to drink from the same river they defecate into. This happens nearly every time I’m involved in a discussion about how we respond to the need for water and agricultural reforms in the developing world. I’m over it. If you think God is going to give you a gold star because you didn’t say “shit”, maybe you need to think about the parable of the talents and how God was pretty convincing in the argument that you need to go out into the world and get stuff accomplished.
What does that have to do with carpet and bamboo? Nothing. I’m just faded and trod upon and my patience with some things is wearing thin.
Welcome back. Welcome to 2014. Excelsior!
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It’s a true thing, I’ve discovered. As far as I know there is no word for it, but there should be.
As soon as you purchase a certain number of books in a particular style or genre (or check said books out of the library), you will become bored with that style or genre. This rule immediately precedes Tsundoku. In fact, I believe this is the act that is the root cause of Tsundoku, which for those of you who won’t follow the simple clicky-thing, is simply the act of letting books pile up unread.
I learned that word (Tsundoko, not “unread”) yesterday, and then decided I should make inroads in my own very real Tsundoku problem by reading some of my more recent book purchases. Yet all of those purchases are Sci Fi and Fantasy and I gotta say that I am all magic sword and spacefleeted out. I know that in a few weeks I’ll be in the mood for genetically engineered dragons and the orphan boys who love them and we will breeze through the screenswipes in happy accord. But right now? Ugh. Even the jacket blurbs (which I still call “jacket blurbs” in spite of dust jackets being both utterly annoying and vestigial) are making me roll my eyes. “Elanth is a world without sunlight, and the biolumenescent Ashgari rule over it with a glowing fist of iron. When the sly young pickpocket K’ryth discovers, quite by chance, that he has the gift for creating light at will the world will never be the same”–The Chronicles of Zippo The Elder
It’s enough to make you want to give up reading altogether.
There is a twin malady to this as-yet-unnamed plague, and that is the wavering one does when trying to decide which of the OTHER piled-up genres you should tackle. There are all those mysteries from back around the early fall that I acquired in a fit of rediscovery. There are the history books that look interesting and are, mostly, if you can handle reading all about Andrew Johnson’s laundry bills.
I get very cranky when I don’t have a book on deck–that is a truth long acknowledged. It’s worse not even having an idea of which stack to peruse. My library is like a waiting room at a time-traveling psychiatrist’s office. Vikings sit shoulder to shoulder with lesbian detectives and former prime ministers. But there’s almost too much interesting material. I’m awash in it and therefore I’m somewhat overstuffed.
There should be a word for that too.
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November is turning into the worst month for me as a writer. By the time it’s ten days old I’m already blitzed by endless word counts and pep talks about fiction. I love writing. I more and more hate being a writer. Being a writer these days is less about telling stories and more about getting your name out there.
I frankly don’t care if people know my name or not. I mean, I want them to know in a conversation because “hey, you, lady” is not my favourite way to be addressed. But as far as being Katherine Coble, Author goes I’m getting more and more meh on the concept. I don’t want people to know my name because I’m wheeling and dealing and schmoozing. I want them to know my name because they read my story and it clicked in their head. It struck a chord. Real writing takes a reader too; all work is only half done if it isn’t read because the reader brings the spark that ignites the fireworks. I can pack as much powder and smoke into it as possible, but it is still only potential.
Most of the really talented writers I know are trying earnestly to find their sparks. They just want to get their work into proper hands so that it can happen. But the most talented self-promoters of my acquaintance are mediocre writers at best. One person whom I knew only through other writers and who is no longer in my circle is a genius at self-promotion. Sadly, her work feels awful to me. Reading it is painful, almost a slap in the face. Because if you consider that a book takes two to fire on all cylinders it’s obvious as you read a self-promoter’s work that all they care about is being able to say they’ve written this or that novel. They don’t care about what the reader may bring to it, so they don’t bother working on a good readers’ experience. In reading the introductory sample passages in this author’s young adult story about angels I was struck at how much it was solely about the author, with no consideration for the reader. But she can go forth and proclaim that she has authored best-selling novels that are optioned for movies.
I don’t want to fall into the trap, though, of pretending like publicity is all foul filth and beneath the artiste. That’s not true. But what are you selling? Are you selling the book, the story, the experience or are you selling the You? I belong to my God, my spouse and my self. I would love for my stories to connect with the people they’re meant to connect to.
I’ve decided this November that writing is like a side salad at a restaurant. It’s mostly delicious if you get a good dressing, but there are always the icky bits. In order for it to be very good you have to eat it all together instead of piece by piece. But there are still the wilty lettuce edges and the occasional radish.
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I haven’t been intentionally losing weight, but it’s been a side-effect of the newest wrinkle in my physical state. I’ve had to change my eating habits a bit to focus on certain nutrients and that change has resulted in some amount of weight being temporarily misplaced. How much I don’t know for sure, because I only weigh myself at the doctors. (If you go to the doctors’ more frequently than you ever went to meetings when you were officially on WW, I figure that’s a fine policy. It also results in my not having the cognitive dissonance of my scale never agreeing with the Official Scale Of Medicalness.)
A friend who is also a physician posted a link to Facebook today about the 10 Things That Cause Diets To Fail. Given my new status as an accidental weight losing person I decided to look it over out of curiousity.
This is why people don’t lose weight in America. The optimal conditions for weight loss, according to this article, are so stringent as to be unlivable. Sure, you can call me lazy. You can say all fat people lack willpower and initiative. Yet I don’t see people who are not fat being told things like “Never take NSAIDs” and “donate your TV”. I understand that the American Diet needs some serious reform. But I also understand that’s partly the fault of the People Who Know Better telling us for years to eat a diet high in carbohydrates, low in fat, when more and more research is proving just how utterly wrong that is. So here we are, fat people, being told that the advice we followed was very bad but now here’s some new advice. Let’s do this instead.
I’m not intentionally dieting. I stopped that years ago when I realised that my scale was my idol and my tape measure was my father confessor and clippings from Self magazine were my God. It dawned on me one day that I had LITERALLY made Self my god and that was that. Since then I’ve watched what I have eaten as best I could. I maintained a large weightloss over a span of five years simply by eating when I was hungry and taking chemo weekly. I refuse to intentionally diet but I WILL moderate my nutritional intake for medical reasons.
What does this mean? It means that I won’t put myself on starvation rations. It means I eat more of certain foods–I’m living on asparagus, black beans and cinnamon. It means I cut down other things. But my day doesn’t revolve around it.
That’s the trouble with this diet guide. I’m not saying they aren’t correct . They probably are. But what they miss is this.
People are not solely machines. As much as it would be LOVELY to be able to tell people to “eat less and move more” and have that be a one-to-one proposition, it just doesn’t work. When you hand a list like this to most overweight people I imagine their response is somewhat similar to mine. ”Why yes. Let me just quit everything in my life and become a professional dieter with a stable of physicians and dieticians overseeing my every move.” Because that’s what a list like this takes.
And if you want to treat the whole person you’ve got to treat the PERSON, not just the body. Work with people to make small changes and understand that in an ideal world everyone would ride exercise bikes all the time and eat only organic veggies and lean meats and not have to be caregivers or ill or laid off or heartbroken or harried, but this is not that ideal world.
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My former boss–the best boss I had when I wasn’t working for myself–just posted this to Facebook. Other friends are passing around various status updates that tell us all to buy locally, eschewing retail outlets in favour of local craftspersons. It’s that time of year, when sales are ramping up for the holidays and everybody from the giant mega corporations to the lowly crochet maven on Etsy wants a piece of the pie.
I guess that means it’s time for me to say this all in one coherent piece in one place.
Consumer decisions are just that. They are a personal decision about where and what you should buy, eat, wear, do. Some consumer decisions are intrinsically moral. No, you shouldn’t buy stolen goods from your cousin Robbie. No, you shouldn’t shoot your neighbours’ cats instead of joining a shooting range.
But many other choices are just that. They’re a choice without a moral center. I am increasingly irritated at the various movements designed to elevate one sort of shopping over another. (Or in the case of “Don’t Shop–Adopt” to demonise shopping entirely.)
There is nothing intrinsically morally better about buying stationery from your neighbour’s cousin Faith-Anne’s collection of hand-pulped artisan paperie than from the Hallmark down the street. You can pat yourself on the back for supporting a local business of course. But let’s take a look at your OTHER neighbour. We’ll call her Kathy. Kathy works at a local business, because (like most people) she can not afford to commute five hours every morning and evening to a job in another state. Her local business employs 83 people other than herself. It gives all of those 84 people paychecks and health insurance and the occasional bagels on Friday mornings. They design stationery that is printed in factories on the other side of the state or in China. That stationery is shipped to the company’s warehouse, which is ANOTHER local business that employs ANOTHER forty people. Those people unpack the boxes, enter the data into the computer and repack them to reship them to Wal-Mart. The Wal-mart that is five miles from your house and Kathy’s house and Faith-Anne’s cousin’s house employs 213 people for round-the-clock staffing. Those people all live pretty close to you too. One of them unpacks the box from Kathy’s company’s warehouse. Another rings up the sale of the box into the register. Another in the office upstairs tracks the sales and reconciles the day’s receipts.
All business is local. All purchases are local. Even purchases from Amazon involve a local transaction that employs at least three local people. How else do you think the products make it TO YOUR HOUSE?
All business is human.
Chain stores or local artisans, it doesn’t matter. One is not a sinner, casting the other one as a saint. They are just choices.
This holiday season feel free to buy from whatever place gives you what you want at the price you want to pay for it. Ultimately the person you have to live with is not Kathy or Faith-Anne’s cousin or the UPS guy who drops off your packages from Amazon. It’s you. So do what works for you and your family.
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